Update 5/3/23. Clinically tested Amberen, touted as the “#1 menopause supplement” is said to provide relief from 12 menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, low sex drive, mood swings, sleeplessness and weight gain among others. Its said to work for any stage of menopause and it's even been endorsed by US Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton. It sounds great but does Amberen really work? This review covers the research on Amberen, the results of those clinical trials, the ingredients, problems, and possible side effects, and how to get a refund if you feel Ambern is not working for you.
What Is The Amberen Menopause Supplement?
Amberen is a dietary supplement touted to relieve symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings. The product website (Amberen.com) says the supplement “naturally restores hormonal balance by relieving hot flashes, boosting energy, and providing comfort for many effects of menopause, safely and effectively.”
Amberen works differently than hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Instead of replacing hormones, this supplement is touted to support the body as it makes its own hormones again. This, in turn, is said to ease symptoms of menopause. The Amberen website is very specific that Amberen is not hormone replacement therapy. It does not contain estrogen, progesterone, or other steroid hormones.
Unlike other menopause supplements that may contain bioidentical hormones or soy, Amberen does not have these ingredients.
Let's now look at the ingredients in Amberen and the menopause research on those ingredients and after that a look at the research on Amberen itself.
From the Amberen company website, we learn this supplement is touted to help menopausal and premenopausal women in the following areas:
hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, low energy and fatigue, sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, menopausal headaches and stress, lack of sexual interest, muscle and joint aches, and menopausal weight gain.
According to Amberen.com 2 capsules contain 400 mg of the following ingredients:
- Ammonium succinate (key ingredient)
- Calcium disuccinate
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Magnesium disuccinate
- Zinc disuccinate hydrate
- Tocopherol acetate
In this list, the ingredients at the top make up most of the product, while those at the end make up the least. For example, since ammonium succinate is the first ingredient, it makes up most of the 400 mg dose of Amberen. Keep that ingredient in mind as it comes up in the Amberen clinical research studies, summarized below.
The package of the product also lists these other ingredients:
- Rice flower
- Magnesium stearate
- Silicon dioxide
- Titanium dioxide
- Carmine (a food coloring)
These ingredients play no role in the effects or benefits of this supplement.
Let's take a brief look at each ingredient separately.
This is the main key ingredient in Amberen. It's also called succinate acid. Yet, another name for it is “amber acid.” This is obviously where the supplement gets its name from. Succinic acid was first obtained fron amber.
The Amberen.com website calls ammonium succinate a “Mitochondrial antioxidant” that blocks free radicals from doing damage. Mitochondria are a hot topic in anti-aging research. Oxidative damage to the mitochondria seems to play a role in aging. Fixing mitochondria dysfunction, some say can help slow aging. For more on this, see the reviews on:
The website also says, “ammonium succinate promotes the elimination of toxic by-products.” While they don't say what those toxic byproducts are, my guess is they may be talking about free radicals.
This is another name for the mineral calcium. The addition of calcium to this supplement makes sense, given that low calcium levels seem to increase PMS symptoms. The calcium might also help offset bone loss that often accompanies menopause. There isn't a lot of calcium in Amberen, and that's probably good, as calcium supplements have been controversial because of side effects.
Of all the ingredients in Amberen, this one seemed to garner the most attention by women commenting below. Some complained the monosodium glutamate (MSG) caused them to have side effects if they were sensitive to it.
On Amberen.com, they call this ingredient “Monosodium L-glutamate,” maybe as a way to diffuse the controversy. They also link to the FDA website, which says it's safe.
The company website says that only a small amount of MSG is used in Amberen in part to help “mitochondrial-benzodiazepine receptors.” Benzodiazepines are a class of medications (ex: Valium) that reduce anxiety. So it sounds like they are saying the MSG helps to calm women down by binding to the benzodiazepine receptors on the mitochondria.
Glycine is an amino acid (non-essential amino acid, meaning we make this in our body). The product website says glycine is used to help the mitochondria in the brain work better, which in turn, helps improve “psycho-emotional balance.”
Some evidence suggests that glycine may help memory in both young and middle-aged adults. Since some women report memory problems with menopause, this may be another reason why glycine was added to the product. Some evidence suggests anti-aging effects too.
Glylcine & Memory
Watch my youtube channel if you prefer
This magnesium is bound to succinic acid. There are a few studies that magnesium might help PMS symptoms like fluid weight gain and mood changes.
Zinc Disuccinate Hydrate
This is the mineral zinc bound to succinic acid. As the product website states correctly, zinc does a lot of different things in the body. Zinc deficiency is rare for most people living in the US. The RDA for zinc is 8 mg/day in women.
This is vitamin E. At least one study noted that vitamin E did not help hot flashes, while other studies show it does help hot flashes. Because it's an antioxidant, vitamin E is sometimes added to supplements to help reduce spoilage.
Amberen Clinical Research& Proof
Amberen is said to have 45 years of clinical research. This is true if you go back to 1971 and count the lab animal research. Much of the early research was not on Amberen, though (it wasn't around in 1971), but rather succinic acid. Succinic acid is the key ingredient in Amberen. Many of the studies are listed on Amberen.com but I located others that were not.
Here is a breakdown of the Amberen research:
This paper is a review article that combines the results of two previous clinical trials. After pooling the results of both studies, the authors concluded that there was evidence for Ambern helping reduce menopause symptoms.
This investigation was conducted in Russia, lasted three months, and involved 125 women aged 42-60 years of age. It was a placebo-controlled double-blind study (the best kind) sponsored by The Amberen company.
The women either took a placebo or Amberen. Women completed questionnaires before and after treatment. Those showed Amberen eased 13 out of 21 menopause symptoms. In other words, 62% of menopause symptoms tested showed improvements. Menopause symptoms that Amberen improved included night sweats, feelings of depression, hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, loss of libido, and lack of energy.
In addition, blood tests also noted Amberen significantly raised estrogen levels. Estrogen in women taking Ambern almost doubled, rising from 34 pg/ml to 66 mg/ml after 90 days. The women taking Amberen also saw improvements in body weight and waist circumference too. More specifically
- Body weight declined by 4%
- Body mass index declined by 4%
- Waist circumference was reduced by 3.6%
These benefits were not seen in women taking placebo pills.
In another paper published that year, the benefits of succinic acid are discussed. All the authors of that paper were scientific advisors for Lunada Biomedical – the company which makes Amberen.
In this study, Russian researchers noted the key ingredient in Amberen reversed menopause symptoms in rats. Basically, Amberen was given to older mice for 4 weeks. Amberen treatment was noted to improve several menopausal symptoms in the mice. The study was supported by Lunada Biomedical, the company which makes the supplement.
This study also exists under another name: A Succinate-Based Composition ”Rejuvenates” Aging Mice and Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms in Women Without Sex Hormone Replacement Therapy. It is also a Russian investigation and is published in another medical journal. Regardless, it's still a mouse study.
Amberen Clinical Studies Review Video
Watch on my Youtube channel if you prefer.
This investigation involved 70 women who were given Amberen or a placebo for three weeks. It was reported that after just three weeks, the women taking Amberen showed significant improvements in insomnia, feelings of depression and anxiety, and irritability. These benefits were not seen in women taking placebo pills.
The Amberen.com site lists a 3-year observational study involving 245 women. While they say Amberen was safe and effective. Unfortunately, they don't say where the study was published so I cannot comment on it.
The 4-Week Animal Study
At one time, the Lunada Biomedical website listed a 4-week study of older mice. No details were given about this study, but it sounds similar to the 2008 Amberen mice studies mentioned above. Might it be the same?
The 6-Week Animal Study
Again, the Amberen website gives no details about this study other than that Amberen was given to older female mice for 6 weeks and it helped them.
Even though the company that makes the product is based in the US, Many of the studies were conducted in Russia.
My Thoughts On The Amberen Research
Here are a few thoughts on the Amberen Research:
- Most of the studies appear to be conducted in Russia. This makes sense as I believe a Russian scientist first patented the method of making succinic acid.
- Some research findings are interesting such as Amberen may raise estrogen levels, help mood, and maybe even weight loss. The research needs to be replicated to confirm these findings.
- Lunada Biomedical supports research on succinic acid and Amberen. There's no problem with this as long as they don't play roles in the outcomes of the investigations. From what I can see, all appears to be ok in this regard.
- Several of the early research is on lab animals.
Most research is on lab animals. I located only two human investigations. They were conducted in 2005 and 2016.
Where To Buy Amberen
Amberen Video Review
Here's a short video I created to help you better understand the evidence and claims of Amberen and how its supposed to work:
Who Makes Amberen?
The active ingredient in Amberen is patented. The patent number is US8546611B2. Originally, the company that made this supplement was called Lunada Biomedica. They were subsequently purchased by another company called BioGix, which was eventually gobbled up by yet another company called Alliance Pharma Inc. (alliancepharmaceuticals.com). That company is located in the United Kingdom at:
The Alliance Pharmaceuticals company represents many other familiar brands such as:
While the parent company is located in the UK, Amberen is manufactured and encapsulated in the US, using ingredients from around the world. To contact a Nurse Aid with questions about Amberen, call the company call at 800-222-3304. Another contact number is 800-993-6339.
Amberen And The FTC
- stop marketing the supplement for weight loss
- stop misrepresenting the results of studies
- stop non-disclosure of financial relationships with some endorsers
- Order Amberen: 800-993-6339
- Customer Care: 800-222-3304
- NurseAid: 800-211- 8021
1 Is It Vegan?
It's not vegan, but it is vegetarian. Because the capsules contain gelatin, it's technically not “vegan.”
2 How Much Should You Take?
It's recommended to take 2 capsules (1 white and 1 orange capsule) per day after breakfast. It may take 90 days before you notice differences taking effect.
3 Is it All-Natural?
In the US, “natural” and “all-natural” really don't have official definitions, so anybody can use them to say just about anything. Amberen.com states that while the ingredients are synthesized, they are bioidentical to how the compounds look in nature.
4 Can You Take It On An Empty Stomach?
I'm unaware of any evidence that says you can't do this but the product website says to take it with food. My guess is this is to reduce the chances of GI discomfort (no proof of this, though. It's a guess).
5 Over 45 Years of Clinical Research. Really?
Sort of yes. Sort of no. The claim that Amberen has been used for over 45 years is based on taking into consideration the research on the key ingredient – succinic acid. That said, the supplement – Amberen – has not been around that long. Much of the research on succinic acid was done in the 1970s and much of that was not conducted in humans.
6 Where is Amberen Made?
The website doesn't specifically give the location except to say it's at a facility in Southern California and that they use globally sourced ingredients (from all over the world). Much of the research on this supplement comes from Russia.
7 Does It Have Soy?
No. there is no soy, black cohosh, maca, or other herbs
8 Does Amberen Contain Estrogen?
No. The supplement contains no estrogen or other hormones.
To get a full refund, the company website states the returned item must be “postmarked by the 60th day from your purchase date. To get a return label call the company at (800) 222-3304 and they will email you a return label. All returns are to be shipped to PO Box 10452 Van Nuys, CA-91410. There is only 1 refund issued per household.
How To Speak To A Nurse
To speak to a nurse, call 800-211-8012. The nurses featured on the supplement website are Holly D who is an RN and Marcy L who is a VN (vocational nurse). On the website, they call the nurses “NurseAid” and “Nurse Aid Agents.” They can help answer questions about the supplement but cannot give medical advice.
Amberen Side Effects
Is Amberen safe? For the vast majority of women, I feel it's safe. None of the original clinical studies reported bad side effects.
As you read the comments below, you'll notice some women have said they developed headaches after taking Amberen. Could that be due to the MSG or something else? The good news is this side effect seems to be very rare. Here are some general things to consider when taking this dietary supplement. This list is not complete:
While the product is likely very safe, here are some things to consider.
- Start with less than recommended for the first week to see how you respond.
- Discontinue use and consult your doctor if you have any adverse reactions.
- Stop taking the product at least two weeks before having surgery.
- Speak to your doctor first if you had a hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy. This caution is on the supplement website.
- The supplement is not intended for women who are not going through menopause or pre-menopause.
- The supplement should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Speak to your doctor/your pharmacist first if you take any prescription medications.
- Women who have headache issues should talk to their doctor.
One disturbing report seems to link the Amberen to a heart problem called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) a very serious medical condition. The report describes what happened to one woman, so it's difficult to know if the supplement caused this condition or not.
The supplement website site also says “Do not take if you have severe hypertension.” The company does not give a reason for this caution. Could this be related to the MSG which appears to raise blood pressure? When in doubt, call the company for more insights.
Amberen & Carol Nicholson
At one time, Carol Nicholson (Carol Nicholson-Kriegel), a registered nurse, was often heard in the radio commercials for this supplement. Carol was identified on the company website as “our menopause expert”. In addition to being a registered nurse, she also owns an advertising agency called International Marketing Company. Today, however, Carol is not found on the Lunada Biomedical website. Olympic athlete Mary Lou Retton also once appeared on the website, giving her testimonial after using the supplement for 90 days.
Amberen vs. Estroven
|Amberen 2 capsules||Estroven 1 caplet|
|Ammonium succinate||Total carbs <1g|
|Calcium disuccinate||Calcium (dicalcium phosphate) 90 mg (10%DV)|
|Monosodium Glutamate||Black cohosh root extract 80mg|
|Glycine||Soy isoflavones 60 mg|
|Magnesium disuccinate||Green tea leaf extract 100 mg|
|Zinc disuccinate hydrate||Yerba mate leaf extract 30 mg|
|Tocopherol acetate||Magnolia bark extract 15 mg|
What Is RU-21?
If you read through the testimonials below, you will see women saying that an anti-hangover supplement called RU-21 helped their hot flashes. Two capsules of RU21 contain 200 mg of succinic acid.
I have no idea if it helps hangovers (or hot flashes) but RU-21 is less expensive than Amberen. While I can't guarantee that it will work for everybody:
for those who are interested.
Does Amberen Work?
Several animal studies and some human clinical studies suggest Ameren may help ease symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, sweating, low energy, and night sweats. Some of the testimonials below also reinforce this. If Amberen really works, it might be due to succinic acid, which is likely the active ingredient. While I'd like to see more human research, the fact remains that clinical studies on Amberen do exist, and this sets the supplement apart from many of its counterparts.